Mueller Okay With Dropping Deadlocked Manafort Counts If Cranky Judge Insists

AFP Contributor/AFP

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team told a federal judge in Virginia Wednesday that it is amenable to dismissing the 10 deadlocked counts against Paul Manafort before sentencing if the judge continues to insist on it.

But Mueller’s team said that it still preferred to wait until the former Trump campaign chairman finished cooperating with the federal government to address those loose ends.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis, who rode the prosecution team hard throughout Manafort’s summer trial, had recently expressed concern about the sequencing of sentencing and the dismissal of the deadlocked counts. Manafort was convicted on eight other bank and tax fraud counts at trial.

Shortly before his D.C. trial was set to start, Manafort entered into a plea deal with Mueller. In exchange for providing useful information to the special counsel, Manafort was required to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy against the U.S. and another of witness tampering. Both cases were related to foreign lobbying work he did in Ukraine.

Ellis last week ordered both parties to attend an Oct. 19 hearing to address the deadlocked counts and sentencing schedule in his case. Waiting to handle them until Manafort’s cooperation was complete would be “highly unusual,” the notoriously by-the-books judge said.

In their Wednesday filing, Mueller’s team said they were fine with getting a sentencing date on the books. They also said that they saw no need to deal with the deadlocked counts now and would prefer to handle them “either at the time of sentencing or when the defendant’s successful cooperation is complete.”

“The government prefers to have the disposition of those counts deferred to the time of sentencing or the successful completion of the defendant’s cooperation, as agreed to in the parties’ plea agreement, previously provided to the Court,” the prosecution filing read.

“Should the Court seek resolution of those counts now, the government does not oppose the dismissal of those counts without prejudice,” it continued. “Counsel for Manafort has informed the government that Manafort does not oppose the government’s positions.”

The offer to dismiss them “without prejudice” now, which Manafort’s attorneys agreed to, would allow the government to retry those counts later.

Read the full filing below.

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